Raphael Saadiq

The very title of the genre "nu-soul" implies a lack of predecessors, at least none not named Gaye, Wonder, or Mayfield. This state of affairs probably has caused Raphael Saadiq to gnash more than a few teeth over the years. Not only did his group, Tony Toni Tone, hold it down for classic soul through the "four guys harmonizing over a DAT" Nineties, but Saadiq himself has been the silent partner in a lot of the retro-groove lacing the airwaves, penning tunes for everyone from D'Angelo to Joi, and leading short-lived trio Lucy Pearl. If he were a rapper, Saadiq would pen a couple of choice verses addressing this relative lack of notoriety. But if he's mad, you can't tell.

Instant Vintage is all about creamy textures and prodding beatology. Tunes like "Body Parts" and "Doing What I Can" use string sweetening with unusually tasteful discretion. "Charlie Ray" taps into Shuggie Otis and Prince territory, while "Skyy, Can You Feel Me" is a jazz-funky excursion that sounds like Lonnie Liston Smith hanging with Donny Hathaway. Funk on the smooth side, without lapsing into the soporific tendencies of some of his nu-soul contemporaries, Instant Vintage offers the kind of flavor bouquet that's worth any price.


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